A B-movie typing tutor!

User Rating: 8.3 | The Typing of the Dead PC
I own an old copy of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing but it's never gotten me to sit down and 'learn' to type for long. Sure, it's well made and has refreshing mini-games, but the motivation was just never there. I learned to type thanks to DOS - the faster you typed, the faster you got things done - nowadays it's all about how fast you can click, ironically just like the first House of the Dead. Allow me to explain: Typing of the Dead is actually a sequel to House of the Dead, one of those plastic gun games you see in the arcades. It was released on the PC, where you aimed with the mouse, shooting zombies and other evil things as they popped up in front of you. The skill involved was negligible and the educational value nil, but it was a fun game, pow pow socky limbs fly off pow pow.
Typing of the Dead picks up right after House of the Dead, and even features an intro to get newcomers up to speed. Let's be frank though, you really don't need to know what's going on, nor is there any story beyond what you'd find in an episode of Ninja Turtles (Evil genius making evil, we must stop all evil!). Zombies have overrun the city and you must fight your way through them to reach the headquarters of some company. So far, so Resident Evil. However, here's where Typing gets even sillier, but that's not to say it isn't good gaming.
Enemies appear with certain words on them and you must type these words in order to destroy the enemies, which sounds simple enough but can be quite nerve-wracking when there are three of them closing in and you keep hitting the wrong letters. Type the wrong letter and you'll 'miss', type the correct one and the enemy will recoil as your shot makes contact. The faster you type each letter (the less time spent searching for the next one) the better your score for that enemy will be, and you'll get a report at the end of a level showing your problem letters, and an allocation of points. You'll see what you need to improve, just like a teaching program should demonstrate.
The gameplay is excellent and will help you improve your typing, as each level brings tougher/longer words and even a few novel twists, such as an enemy with three snake heads - you have to pick the head with the correct answer to the question posed before your time runs out or bitey bitey.
The game's graphics aren't the greatest, but they shouldn't be a deciding factor for any discerning gamer. Sure, they look blocky, but everything looks like it should and it'll run on just about any PC around nowadays. The characters look downright silly running around with keyboards strapped to their chests, though. On the topic of silliness, let's not forget the accompanying audio, which was most likely recorded by the programmers themselves during their lunch break. I'll tolerate the 'script' as b-movie fluff since it matches the whole concept of the game (zombies!!), but the dialogue mostly sounds like someone reading individual words off a paper rather than coherent sentences. Oh. No. There. They. Are. That sort of thing. One bat-like enemy even intones his sentences badly - I'm certain he's asking me if I want to suffer like G did, instead of giving me an order. (Suffer like G did?)
The game is also quite short, consisting of just several levels, but there are other game types you can try, such as boss-only battles, which will extend Typing's life a little. Obviously the words that appear on your enemies are random, so there's also a lot of replay value there. Some of the combinations will have you scratching your head, but that's all part of the fun.
Typing of the Dead mixes old-school 'storylines' with modern technology and adds some educational value into the mix, and there's not many games around that can actually boast improving a skill that isn't only useful in the gaming world. (Counterstrike will teach you modern warfare? please.) If I were to start learning to type anew, I would thoroughly enjoy a game like Typing of the Dead. Plus, I'm not a perfect typer and where there's room for improvement, Typing of the Dead will find and help. That's exactly what an 'educational' title should do, even if it does it with globs of green zombie blood. Gross.